Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Verse As Therapy - Using Poetry to Deal With Tragedy

Adjua Starks worked for the New York City Board of Education’s Office of Placement and Referral as a field monitor, regularly interacting with, advising, and helping mentally and physically challenged youth workers. One of Adjua Starks’ passions is poetry, which she started writing when she was only 12 years old.

Many readers and writers of poetry, including University of Tennessee English professor Marilyn Kallet, believe poetry is a powerful tool for dealing with tragedy and disaster.

Dr. Marilyn Kallet, a poet herself, has formed this opinion after her own close brushes with tragedy. Professor Kallet was at New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on September 11, 2001, as the 9/11 attacks happened. She was also in Paris in November 2015 during the deadly terrorist attacks that left 130 dead and many more wounded. In both instances, Kallet says that instead of retreating inward and trying to hide or block out the tragedy, she immediately reached for her pen and pad, using poetry to sort through the shock and emotion of such horrific experiences.

Professor Kallet has since passed her technique along to others. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in July 2016, she encouraged her doctoral student Ben McClendon to collaborate with her on a poem about the tragedy. A gay man himself, McClendon took the opportunity to use his voice for good, refusing to remain silent in the wake of such violence. He reports that the process aided him in dealing with his own emotions, calling it “incredibly healing.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Tips for Reading a Poem Out Loud

A veteran of the educational field, Adjua Starks participates in various artistic endeavors. As well as writing poetry, Adjua Starks has recited it for audiences.

Reciting poetry out loud for a group of people comes with special challenges. In addition to conveying the emotion of the poem, you need to perform the piece so that the audience understands the words and their intended meaning. Keeping a number of tips in mind can help you make your recitation more impactful.

For instance, watch the speed at which you read the piece. Don’t go too quickly or slowly, and put pauses where they naturally fit as part of the poem’s flow, rather than wherever a line break appears in the text. This helps the reading sound smooth and easy to listen to, rather than forced or overly dramatic in style. Similarly, pay attention to the rhythm you use. You want to avoid reciting in a sing-song style, a tip that holds particular importance for poems that rhyme.

Finally, pay attention to your tone and how you’re expressing the words. A monotone delivery won’t keep your audience’s attention, while putting too much emphasis on an emotional delivery comes across as overdramatic. Remember that the poem should more or less speak for itself.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Poetry Recitation

Prior to her most recent position as assistant dean at Barnard College in New York, Adjua Starks was the associate director of the department of professional development at New York Law School, where she enjoyed counseling law students and alumni on both legal and nonlegal career paths. Adjua Starks also has a love of poetry as an art form and has been reciting poetry since the age of 5. She recently performed a reading for the fitness company Fit4Life.

To be effective, poetry recitation must involve many different elements. Presenters may recite their own works or the poems of others, but in either case, there are several fundamentals of the art.

1. Physical presence - When reciting, make eye contact with audience members to establish a relationship and use posture to convey confidence.

2. Evidence of understanding - Study the poem and understand its meaning. Techniques such as appropriate pauses, volume, and delivery style can show a deep level of comprehension.

3. Voice and articulation - Use your voice to project to the entire audience, being careful to articulate each word properly. The goal is to capture the attention of the audience with your tone, pace, and emotion.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sir Andrew Motion Advises Budding Poets

Adjua Starks graduated from Cornell University with a degree in human development and family studies. Shortly after that, she studied at Cornell Law School and acquired a Juris Doctor degree before proceeding to work at various educational institutes. Her most recent position was assistant dean for the Office of the Dean of Studies at Barnard College in New York. Outside of work, Adjua Starks spends most of her time writing poetry.

Sir Andrew Motion, an English poet and novelist, shared his tips on how to be a successful poet with the BBC. According to the award-winning poet, there are several things you must remember in order to write a good poem.

First, he suggests that aspiring poets should let their subject find them. In his case, it was his mother’s passing that led him to start writing about his usual subject, death. He also advises poets to tap deeply into their own feelings. The poems he finds most interesting are those that are filled with emotion.

Apart from that, he says that poems should be about something that matters to the poet. Writers must be able to tell the truth – a difficult task for Mr. Motion while he was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. Poets must also celebrate the ordinary, while still being particular about their subjects. If one is particular when choosing what they write about, the things that they do write are the things that they do best.

Mr. Motion also suggests that poets should read their poems out loud, let the work be open to interpretation, and always find the right time to write. Lastly, he urges poets to read more, revise their work, and persevere in their craft.